Free & Open Source Software for Microfinance: Increasing Efficiency and Extending Benefits to the Poor
By Britta Augsburg | Fall 2006
Coauthor: Philipp Schmidt
Abstract: In this paper we investigate the potential of open source software to increase the impact of microfinance (MF) especially for the very poor and suggest a framework for econometric evaluation of such intervention. We argue that especially small and medium organizations play a crucial role, because they are more flexible in operations and familiar with the local context. We consider how new information and communication technology (ICT) can increase outreach of MF to the very poor within a self-sustainable holistic approach. We consider the potential of free/open source software projects to address the computing needs of small and remote MFIs, and we describe the reasons why no suitable solutions have emerged yet. While the use of FOSS and ICTs in general can help increase outreach, we feel the need to draw attention to the challenges that come with it; one should not forget that access to basic financial services is not all that is needed -- especially by the very poor.
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